With fingers clasped in solidarity and feet planted firmly in the sand, nearly one hundred strangers stood hand in hand on the beach just north of the San Clemente Pier in Orange County, California on Saturday afternoon. The group was participating in the Hands Across the Sand movement, which mobilized beachgoers in 860 different locations worldwide to make a bold, yet peaceful visual statement in protest of careless offshore drilling, urging government officials to consider alternative energy sources and act more responsibly as environmental caretakers.
"I think it's visually impactful, " said Surfrider's South Orange County Special Events & Fundraising Chair Denise Erkeneff. "We all share the same concerns about what's going on with our beaches, but this is primarily about offshore oil drilling, the moratorium, and urging Congress and the administration to look into clean energy alternatives and renewables."
The Hands Across the Sand movement began in Florida, where founder Dave Rauschkolb organized the largest anti-offshore drilling gathering in the state's history, ultimately preventing the installation of oil rigs just three miles from Florida's coast. "We are drawing a line in the sand against offshore oil drilling along America's beaches and in solidarity events across America and around the world," said Raushkolb. "No one industry should be able to place entire coastal economies and marine environments at risk with dangerous, dirty mistakes."
As children and adults formed a 150-yard chain along the Pacific coastline their message was clear.
"We know that oil is not the answer," said Erkeneff. "The poor fishermen didn't ask for this. The ocean didn't ask for it. Now is the time. If not now, then when?"
Follow Zach Weisberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/zachweisberg